It might be one of the most popular seafood products in the United States, Europe, Japan and many other Asian countries, but the majority of consumers don't realize the extensive problems caused by their appetite for shrimp.
Most of the shrimp consumed in the developed world is imported from poorer countries where mangrove ecosystems have been recently cleared to build vast stretches of shrimp ponds. This is the case in India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil, Ecuador and Honduras.
This causes serious declines in biodiversity and related wild fisheries, shoreline erosion and increased susceptibility to hurricanes and tsunamis. Massive quantities of CO2, previously trapped in mangrove roots, are also released, thus contributing to climate change.
The shrimp industry is spreading to Madagascar, Gambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, with as-yet unknown impacts. Oil companies and other multinationals are investing heavily in the sector.
Many health issues are raised by eating farmed shrimp grown in chemical soups of antibiotics, pesticides and other contaminants. The massive interests at stake make the proper application of any existing regulations very hard.
To avoid all these problems, we can simply stop eating shrimp from tropical farms.